Causes & Signs Of A Failure Turbocharger : Repair & Replacement Cost

failure turbocharger

Turbochargers are used in most internal combustion engines. A turbocharger in a vehicular engine accelerates the fuel process in the inner chamber and increases the power of the engine. But sometimes the turbocharger installed in the engine fails due to various reasons and directly affects the performance and power of the engine. There are many different reasons why a turbocharger may fail, and it may show different symptoms when it fails.

In this article, we will go through the causes and symptoms of turbocharger failure in detail so that you can troubleshoot it based on the symptoms of turbocharger failure.

What Is A Turbocharger?

A turbocharger is a device used in an internal combustion engine to increase power output by speeding up the fuel combustion process by compressing the air entering the engine’s combustion chamber. The turbocharger is installed at any place in the engine according to the model and design of the engine.

The mechanism of a turbocharger uses the energy of the engine’s exhaust gases to spin a turbine connected to the compressor. The force of the exhaust gases in a turbocharger drives a compressor as the turbine spins, which forces compressed air into the engine’s combustion chamber to mix with fuel, which is ignited to produce a more powerful explosion.

As a result, the power and torque of the engine increase, and the engine provides good and smooth performance. Turbochargers are commonly used in modern diesel and gasoline engines to improve power and performance. The job of a turbocharger is to ignite the fuel in the engine’s combustion chamber more quickly and smoothly. However, turbocharged engines require more maintenance than non-turbocharged engines.

Signs of A Bad Turbocharger

Signs of a bad turbocharger include reduced engine power, black or blue smoke from the exhaust, a loud whining or grinding noise, oil leaks in the compressor or turbine housing, and excessive shaft movement. In addition, poor acceleration, low fuel efficiency, white smoke, and low boost pressure are also signs of a bad turbocharger.

Let us know the symptoms of a bad turbocharger in detail so that you can identify its symptoms and solve them in time.

1. Loss of Power

A failed turbocharger is unable to generate enough boost pressure because a bad or failing turbocharger does not compress enough air into the engine’s internal combustion chamber to fuel the combustion process, resulting in problems with engine power and acceleration and causing you to Reduced power performance may be experienced while driving the vehicle. However, there may be other reasons for low power performance, for which the reasons for low power performance for the engine should be investigated.

2. Engine Noise

A whistling sound can be heard from the engine during acceleration due to a bad turbocharger. A loose or damaged compressor wheel can also produce a rattling metallic sound. Because the compressor of a damaged turbocharger produces wheel city noise and is unable to compress air. Sometimes the whistling sound from the engine can also be due to a leak in the pipeline of the turbocharger.

3. Smoke Issues

In many cases, a failed or bad turbocharger causes white smoke to come out of the exhaust pipe because a faulty turbocharger forces engine oil over the piston in the engine’s internal combustion chamber, burning the oil with the fuel and sending it out the tailpipe. Excessive white smoke starts coming.

4. Poor Fuel Economy

Often, a worn or failed engine turbocharger causes the engine to consume more fuel. As a bad turbocharger can cause the engine to overwork, a reduction in engine power performance can be experienced, resulting in poor fuel economy.

5. Check Engine Light

In vehicles, a sensor is used to monitor the boost pressure of the turbocharger, which sends a signal of the boost pressure of the turbocharger to the ECU of the vehicle. But a bad turbocharger can be responsible for turning on the check engine light. The Engine Control Module may record a fault code that can be read with a diagnostic scanner.

6. Oil Leakage Near The Turbocharger

Engine oil leakage can often be seen from around the turbocharger when the turbocharger installed in vehicles is damaged. When the turbocharger shaft bushings wear out, it causes engine oil leakage into the turbocharger case and into the engine’s combustion chamber. In many cases, a bad turbocharger can also cause symptoms of excessive engine oil filling in the intercooler.

Causes Of A Failure Turbocharger

Causes of turbocharger failure include lack of lubrication, a dirty air filter, overboosting, foreign objects or debris, wear and tear, cooling system failure, or improper installation.

1. Lack of Lubrication

The proper functioning of turbochargers requires adequate lubrication. If there is a problem with the supply of engine oil to the turbocharger or the oil is contaminated, the turbocharger may fail. Because the shaft, turbine, and compression wheel of a turbocharger rotate more rapidly when the engine is started or accelerated, it requires adequate lubrication.

2. Dirty Air Filter

The turbocharger draws pure and clean air through the air filter of the vehicle. But sometimes, a clogged air filter or a cracked air filter pipe can cause dust particles to enter the turbocharger, causing wear and tear on the internal parts of the turbocharger and forcing the turbocharger to work harder. This may result in premature wear and tear and failure of the turbocharger.

3. Over-Boosting

Many times we drive the vehicle with over boost, which involves giving excessive acceleration. Over boosting can cause excessive stress on the turbocharger, or the turbocharger may start to pick up oil. In many cases, over boosting can cause the compression wheel of the turbocharger to break, leading to failure of the turbocharger.

4. Foreign Object/Debris

If a foreign object, such as a stone or debris, enters the turbocharger, it may damage the impeller or compressor wheel, resulting in the turbocharger’s compression wheel or turbine being broken and unable to compress air.

5. Age & Wear/Tear

Over time, a turbocharger can wear out and lose its efficiency, resulting in decreased performance or a bad turbocharger. Because wear and tear of turbocharger parts is a normal process with age and time. Therefore, the failure of the turbocharger directly affects its lifespan.

6. Cooling System Failure

In many cases, failure of the engine’s cooling system can cause the turbocharger to overheat. As the engine overheats, the turbocharger overheats and is unable to function properly, which may result in damage or failure of the turbocharger.

7. Improper Installation

Sometimes incorrect installation or poor quality parts in the engine can lead to premature failure of the turbocharger. Because wrong installation of turbochargers or low-quality turbocharger parts can be the main reason for its failure.

How Does A Turbocharger Work?

A turbocharger consists of different types of components that make its functioning complete. A turbocharger is comprised of a compressor, a turbine, and a center housing with bearings that allow the compressor and turbine to rotate.

The compressor is located at the front of the turbocharger and is driven by the turbine at the rear. The turbine is driven by the exhaust gases of the engine. When the engine is started, exhaust gases flow through the turbine housing, causing the turbine to rotate at high speed. The spinning turbine is connected to a shaft, which drives a compressor at the other end of the turbocharger.

As the compressor rotates, it draws air from the engine’s intake system and compresses the air, allowing more air to enter the engine’s combustion chamber. The compressed air mixes with the fuel, and the resulting mixture is ignited in the engine’s combustion chamber, causing a more powerful explosion in the internal combustion chamber of an engine with a turbocharger. A turbocharged engine provides more horsepower and torque than a non-turbocharged one.

Can I Drive My Car With Bad Turbo?

If your car has a turbocharged engine, it is not recommended to run the car for a long time with a bad trunk. However, your car will be able to run with a bad turbo. But the power of the engine will be low, and many types of problems will have to be faced.

Therefore, when you see symptoms of the malfunction of the turbocharger in the car, you should soon get it examined by a qualified vehicle technician, so that the engine and the damage in the turbocharger can be protected.

How To Test If Your Turbo is Working?

To check if your turbocharger is working.

  • First, you hear unusual sounds like whining or grinding during acceleration.
  • Also inspect the boost gauge, because a working turbo increases the pressure on the gauge.
  • Also check the engine pickup during acceleration, as a working turbo produces higher acceleration and better engine performance.
  • Also check for sudden power loss or excessive smoke problems, as these may indicate a bad turbo.
  • Additionally, inspect for oil leaks around the turbo.
  • If doubt persists, contact a professional mechanic for a thorough inspection.

Turbocharger Replacement Cost

On average, the replacement cost of a typical vehicle’s turbocharger can range between $400 and $2500, and this estimated cost will include the mechanic’s labor costs.

The cost of the turbocharger unit in normal vehicles can range from $300 to $1800 and the labor cost of the mechanic can be expected to average between $100 and $700. Depending on the location of the mechanic, this cost can be slightly less or more.

The replacement cost of the turbocharger depends on the vehicle’s model, engine, and turbo shape, and mechanic’s location directly relative to the turbo. Because the replacement cost of turbochargers in high-speed cars and heavy vehicles may be higher.

Turbocharger Repair Cost

The repair cost of the turbocharger depends on changing the damaged parts of the turbo and the model of the vehicle. Typically, the repair cost of a turbocharger can be half compared much as the replacement cost of a new turbocharger. However, in many cases, turbocharger repair does not prove to be more effective. Repairs can cause turbochargers to fail for many reasons.

Typically, the repair cost of a turbocharger can range from $300 to $1400. This cost may include the cost of new turbocharger parts as well as the mechanic’s labor. However, many others also affect the repair of the turbocharger, like new engine oil filters and oil.


Q. How does an unhealthy turbo sound?

Often, your vehicle’s turbo can produce a screeching noise when it goes bad. You will hear a whistling or screeching noise from the engine or turbocharger when you start the engine or accelerate.

Q. Will a bad turbocharger damage my car engine?

If you run the vehicle with the bad turbocharger for a long time, then this bad turbocharger can damage the internal parts of the vehicle engine. In many cases, a bad turbo depletes the engine’s oil and can sometimes lead to engine seizing.

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